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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I started out just rewarding for touching the dowel rod. Then mouthing. Then we worked on “hold.” During that time we had a backslide on “take.” I ended up trying an ear pinch. I was reluctant, but she quickly figured it out. I expected it to be more “dramatic” I guess. Perhaps all the earlier work played into it. Now on to holding the rod in different positions - standing, walking, etc.
Dog Working animal Collar Carnivore Dog breed
 

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I'm taking an retrieve class with FDSA. We are waaayyyy behind. As in "I've read the first week's lectures, but we haven't done any homework" behind. He has the "go out and grab the thing" part of a retrieve down, and usually brings it back to my vicinity (he's better about it when I'm sitting in a chair, for some reason), and we've done some "take the thing and then give it back" stuff, but that's about it.

I tried using an ear pinch with Ilka, and all it did was kill any desire she had to retrieve a dumbbell. Even her beloved training dummies were considered suspect for a while. Simon is so much more sensitive that I can't imagine ever doing it with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We haven’t come close to doing any retrieving yet. (I am making a distinction between this training and playing/retrieving toys.) Not sure of the progression, but I imagine the ear pinch will be a distant memory by the time we get to retrieving a dumbbell. We’re just starting to work on holding the dowel rod in positions other than sit and while moving.
 

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I've used the same way to teach a formal retrieve that I used in the '60's to teach an Afghan Hound to retrieve. Came out of a book that's long out of print and one of the first that I found that didn't rely on the ear pinch or toe pinch.

Most of my Dobes and the Afghan didn't cart toys around and pick them up so unlike the Aussie who did the first step involved teaching them to have something in their mouth.

I tried the wooden rod and when trainers first started teaching retrieves that way. I had better results using a dumbbell from the start. I use either one of the plastic ones or a wood one. Plastic worked better for any dog who tended to want to mouth wnat he was supposed to be holding.

I start out with the dog sitting in front of me and about 10 small treats on a counter or table next to me. I hold the dumbbell in both hands and say "Take It" Rarely a dog will actually take it from on the first try--so them I gently open his mouth, put the bar just behind his canines, put my hand under his jaw--while saying "Hold"--and before the dog has a chance to try to spit it out I say "Give"--and make sure when he opens his mouth I have my hands in position to take it from him and I give him one of the treats.

I do that in a series of 5 or 10 several times a day. At some point I've had dogs you actually reached out to take it with a a couple of days and one dog who would drop his jaw and let me put it in his mouth (he was the worst and it took months before he graduated to actually taking it from me).

When the dog will reach out and take the dumbbell and hold it for a few second and give it back to me on the "Give" command we move along to moving the dumbbell from directly in front of his nose to one side or the other and above or below his nose. When he's reliably reaching for it and I'm going to teach him to pick it up instead of me holding it I start with a chair seat and hold the dumbbell just above the seat, then resting on the seat and then on the seat without me holding it. When he's actually picking it up from the seat and giving to me on command then we go to a stack of books--slightly lower than the seat and as he is picking the dumbbell up from the book I keep removing a book at a time until there are no books and the dog will pick the dumbbell up from the ground.

I treat for compliance--when the dog takes the dumbbell from me and releases--he gets a treat--when we are working on having him reach out to take the dumbbell and release he gets a treat after each success. And we stop only on success.

By the time the dog will pick the dumbbell up off the floor I also am working with him to learn to carry it. I start when he reliably reaches and take the dumbbell and releases it to me on command--then once he has the dumbbell in his mouth I will back up one or two steps away and call him--a treat for getting to me without dropping the dumbbell. And in heel position I hand him the dumbbell and say heel and take a few steps forward. At this point when we stop I want him to hang on to the dumbbell and I will tell him to stay and step in front of him and tell him "Give" and treat.

That's how I start them all--and every dog is different--some picked it up really fast and my lovely fawn dog took an entire year to get to the point described above--and he was rock solid as we moved forward and I didn't care how long it took--he was doing other fun stuff and loved agility and jumped like a flea.

Past the all important beginning steps the rest is extensions of the steps. Doing an actual retrieve--I put the dog in a sit stay I walk out just a few feet and come back so he's in heel position and say "Take It" I had one dog I had to walk out to the dumbbell a few times but most of them ran those few steps out and then because what they'd been doing with dumbbells always ended up with the in front of me--they picked it up and came back and sat in front of me. A couple of dog picked the dumbbell up and looked confused but asking them "Come" generally got them moving.

I'm very low key when we start throwing the dumbbell--I make sure that they aren't moving until I say "Take it"--that tends to be pretty exciting to see an object get thrown and know that they are going to get to go get it.

This all sounds very long and drawn out--in practice it isn't--but I found that it worked a lot better in the long run than some of the methods I've seen trainers using lately.

My star pupil was an accomplished retriever on the flat or over an obstical in about three weeks. The Afghan Hound actually went from zero to "I know how to do this" in three months but that's because we needed to work out a couple of problems that originated in the fact that as a show prospect he'd heard nothing all his life except "Get that ear out of your mouth" and trying to pick up a dumbbell with out getting the ears in his mouth was a new kind of torture as far as he was concerned. Eventually he learned to tip his head to one side and then to the other which effectively left the bar with no hair on it and he'd pick it up. At his first match when he did that the judge couldn't figure out what he was doing and when he did figure it out it was everything he could do to not laugh.

I don't know how on earth anyone ever got a dog to retrieve using an ear pinch--virtually ever dog I ever saw who had been ear or toe pinched was never going to retrieve.

dobebug
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My instructor also competes in hunt tests (in addition to competitive obedience) and has used the ear pinch on several dogs. We started out like you, but then just stalled out with her not taking the dowel rod. In one ear pinch lesson she was back to offering the “take” behavior. Not sure how many months we worked on touch, mouthing, and holding before doing the ear pinch.

I have to say I’m surprised to read your Dobes have never carted around or picked up toys. My first rescue would actually pick up and move my Nikon camera. He NEVER damaged it. I was always impressed with the naughty behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My instructor did comment that back in the day people started with the ear pinch. I definitely wouldn’t be a fan of that approach.

I was at a SAR seminar where the instructor clicker trained me. It was so hard trying to offer behaviors and figure out what the ultimate goal was. Can’t imagine trying to do that while someone was pinching me.
 

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Right now I have the only Doberman who has lived with me for a substantial length of time who has had a toy of any kind that he now drags from room to room.

And I had another Dobe who would, if you walked him to a toy and told him to take it and you walked him back to the to box--would deposit the toy in the box--then we could go back for another toy--rinse and repeat.

And I had dogs who would fish a toy out of the toy box and chew on it--and that dog left some other dog would come and chew on the toy. But many of my dogs didn't take toy out of the toy box. I had to do that and I had to put them back in as well.

Trainers have basically given up hope of teaching me to use a clicker--I use a verbal marker "Yes" but I'm a failure when it comes to getting a click in at the proper moment.

I know a bunch of retriever types and who were trained to retrieve with ear pinches but I had one hunter (brittany's and Vizsla's who said a trainer ruined one of his Brittany's and he ruined one of his own Vizla's using an ear pinch.

I don't like using pain to enforce behavior. I'd rather take longer than use ear pinches.

And no--none of my training has every been entirely positive--I think there is a point at which the dog has to learn that training is not just when they feel like it but all the time.

dobebug
 

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Last Sunday I asked Nadia to perform the IGP dumbbell retriever over the full height hurdle for the first time ever. She performed beautifully, for the first time and the subsequent repetitions.
I even managed to snap a picture
Sky Plant Tree Outdoor recreation Wood


Nadia is much less of a natural carrier than the daughter I kept. She will pick up and carry things she likes and that interest her. The dumbbell was not one of those things early on and I struggled, trying with the dowel didn't work. I took some time leaving it aside and instead tried again later on with an approach similar to Bug by taking a full dumbbell and tossing it, then free shaping any interest she offered. I then added a component where I would "steal" it off the ground and play keep away, creating value to it by showing interest in it. And that latter part worked, she now gets SO excited for the dumbbell to a point where she needs to be physically held back when I toss. (Something we are working on along with the presentation to her finishes but the finish is such a weak area of mine to begin with). After that it was a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition, following the rules of 3 and always ending up on a good note. When I added the jump she'd already seen plenty of repetition chasing tugs out and back over it, so the dumbbell came across as a natural addition.

I don't think a force-retrieve would've worked well with her, but I'm always interested in seeing what works for people and what doesn't.

One of her two daughters is encountering a bit of a bug where she will happily take and carry, but she will not pick it off the ground, she wants to indicate like it's an article! I've told her to try building value and treating it like a toy, as it sounds like she takes more after her mother than her sister.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I tried playing keep away and would toss the dowel rod like I was the tug toy and Elle would run and indicate on it. I did work on articles that way, so she’s wasn’t wrong. It was my hope that it would help to get her “take” back on track if she would start offering to pick it up.

Worked on Elle carrying the dowel rod for a couple of steps last night. Haven’t tried having her pick it up yet by commanding “take” when I’m not holding it, so not sure how that will go. Or maybe we’ll never work on that with the dowel rod and will use a dumbbell to start. I just ordered one, so haven’t played with one at all.
 

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I think the very hardest transition in the training to retrieve (at least for me and my dogs) was taking the dumbbell from my hand to taking it from the floor. And the book I learned it from described how to do it using first the chair seat and graduating to the pile of books which could be made lower and lower one book at a time until the dumbbell was on the floor.

My one and only Dobe who was a toy carrier from the time he was 9 weeks old was raised at the same time that one of the vets at the clinic where I worked had a Golden puppy just a little older--we stuck them in the same kennel run and the Golden was a typical Golden---if you came to the door of the run he'd rush to find a toy to carry and offer to you. So that one Dobe puppy learned that one Golden behavior (which cracked me up) but I will say he was my 3 week success story. Easiest retrieve training I ever did with any of my dogs.

I think that the dumbbell is easier for a dog to pick up (yes, I know they have no problem picking up the fallen tree branch that you don't want them to pick up and chew) because the bar makes it easier to pick it up.

Artimis--that's a great shot of Nadia coming over the full sized jump with the IPO sized dumbbell.

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I think the very hardest transition in the training to retrieve (at least for me and my dogs) was taking the dumbbell from my hand to taking it from the floor.

dobebug
Yup. Definitely Yup. Probably not helped by my almost instinctive tendency to twitch the dumbbell and do a little back and forth hand movement with it in sort of a keep-away fashion. A dumbbell on the floor just lies there.

Random thought (really just a joke....I think...) Tie a string to the dumbbell and jerk it around on the floor the way you do to get a cat to play. 😄
 

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You know what Melbrod--I think that the reason the how to teach the retrieve from that book has been so successful for me and the various dogs is that I followed the instructions slavishly--and he made a point of not turning the retrieve into a game or starting it from a game. So it's really worked well for me.

But that remark about your random thought only being sort of a joke reminded me of the time the breeder of one of my dogs was going to be showing him in Obedience. So she had him at her house for a week and he wasn't as speedy or happy about the Novice recall as she wanted him to be--she called me one night saying that she'd solved the problem.

I wanted to know how--she said she'd show me when she brought him back the following week.. So there we were standing in the street in front of my house and she'd just run him through all of the Novice exercises except the recall and the long sit and long down. She had also taken then dog out a long way and left him sitting--waiting for a command. She came back and reach in her back pocket and pulled out a soft black rubber dish (a small version of a grain bucket) slapped it on her head and hollered "Perry COME!" That dog couldn't get there fast enough and couldn't hardly sit fast enough and couldn't take his eyes off of here (or actually off of the rubber dish she was now wearing on her head.

OMG--there really is no reason that should have worked--but it did--he never lost points on a recall--and the judge may have thought that he was staring into the handlers eyes but his breeder and I both knew he was starting at the top of the handlers head--hoping there was that stupid dish up there.

Training is an inventive process is all I can say.

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@melbrod << Random thought (really just a joke....I think...) Tie a string to the dumbbell and jerk it around on the floor the way you do to get a cat to play.>>

Good thought and I for one along with you DO NOT see it as joke as it is highly effective to incite drive in order to sidestep all the intermediary time consuming steps to induce picking up the dumbbell as expressed in some of the preceding posts. FWIW the training philosophy expressed in the lead-in bold blue font falls on the same page as Ivan Balabanov albeit not identical but very close, devoid of the soundtrack and agitation stick Here

One technique that I find to be highly effective in a near effortless attempt to attain a compliant and up to the 2 kg. weight dumbbell retrieve either over the A frame or 1 meter hurdle is to loop one end of my tracking line around the dumbbell grip bar prior to the throw. Why the heavy tracking line??? It is two fold in purpose as I anticipate tug and resistance to occur once the dumbbell is picked up if hopefully it is picked up. If not then then the center bar needs a wrapped layer of soft fabric or a dumbbell purchased with a wrap from Here

Off leash and with no need of a corrective collar — that intentionally could 'kill' drive if errantly used— is the requisite. Lob the tracking line attached dumbbell over a shallow angle A frame ( shallow angle in order for handler to facilitate and guide a return over the A frame). Therefore from a SIT preceding the toss — restrain if necessary while holding the FLAT collar — then release simultaneously with a verbal cue of choice to pursue the thrown item. I use a 'generic' all- encompassing verbal SUUK (pronounced 'sook') to indicate there is an item to be found and retrieved in association with my verbal cue.

The ultimate hope is for a picking up of the dumbbell — and if failure and disinterest evidence then the dumbbell needs 'life' to incite involuntary drive in order for a working breed dog endowed with prey drive to reflexively pick up the dumbbell. Underscore 'life' and reflexively as the involuntary reflex action is dependent on the animated state of the prey in this case the mimicking 'prey' of a yet to-come-to-life wood dumbbell. Therefore just as @melbrod wrote “Tie a string to the dumbbell and jerk it around on the floor the way you do to get a cat to play” .

Therefore along that continuum the hope then is increased that compliance or at least an inciting to pick up the dumbbell will evidence and that drive will escalate and culminate in a solid grip. And if so then the attached tracking line provides direction via the handler to redirect the momentum/direction of the dog and return back over the A frame — somewhat an imaginary leash yet not attached to the dog. All the activity both handler and dog occurs within the proximity of 2 or 3 outstretched arm lengths during training to facilitate the process.

The same process can be applied for the hurdle beginning with a few inches of tripping height then increasing in successful increments over time to full 1 meter height and 2kg. dumbbell. To ensure full jumping height clearance at a meter then a loose cross bar that is easily knocked down is placed a few inches higher or some meadow grass or soft cedar end cuttings attached to the top barrier provide a safe non injury causing extension to the jump.

Ultimately then, ending of the exercise requires the frontal presentation to the handler.

The parts of the completed exercise comprise of several facets all of which are broken down and trained individually and eventually chained. Advocates of 'back-chaining' suggest that getting to the finalized orderly chained sequence requires 'back-chaining' during training meaning that the finalized from-beginning-to-end sequence of the exercise as such — SIT, SUUK/FIND, HUP, HERE, OUT. — need be trained in reverse. IMHO it's a half dozen of one and six of the other thus inconsequential. A comes before Z in my world.

Unrelated to @melbrod post yet I'm surprised that the ear pinch is still being advocated in light of the attestation of failure as expressed in some preceding posts. Ironically there is no humane way to administer a painful aversive especially to the nerve sensitive area that is not all cartilage. Besides, the long arduous journey to develop a bond of dog-toward-handler-trust can be eroded in a heartbeat thus a possible irreversible setback results in what could and should have been easy training endeavours. Many a potentially good retriever never got to even be a retriever as attested to by the content of some preceding posts as a result of the ear pinch. I sheepishly raise my hand as at one-long-ago time aversive measures were the 'norm' that inadvertently found a home in my 'naivety'.

In closing, Sarah Prelle and Marko Koskensalo Here provide a highly insightful six part series pertaining to the topic of the OP

In the common bond of Dobermans.... Mike
 

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I see one of the things I didn't mention in that lengthy explanation of how I start training for a retrieve and Mike's information reminded me--I don't teach any part of a retrieve on leash. I don't want any kind of correction during any of the stages of training. And I'll still sacrifice speed in the training process for absolute reliability.

dobebug
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Little **** took it and ran off into the yard. Needless to say, Elle’s dumbbell has arrived.
Dog Vertebrate Carnivore Dog breed Collar

This morning we worked on her taking a dumbbell from me at different heights. I would have her on my left side with the dumbbell on the right behind my back. Then I would rev her up excitedly asking her if she was ready, was she gonna get it, etc. Then I would hold it out high, low, etc. in front of us. As soon as she would grab it I would let go, back up and command “here,” and then encouraged her to jump up on me as I loved her up and praised her.

I’m to continue working on this the rest of the week. Eventually I’m to rest one end of the dumbbell on the floor as I hold the other end. I can also restrain her by her collar to help get her energy up. This is similar to advice I’ve been given by my Schutzhund trainers.

At this point though, no throwing of the dumbbell. 🙃
 

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I'm taking an retrieve class with FDSA. We are waaayyyy behind. As in "I've read the first week's lectures, but we haven't done any homework" behind. He has the "go out and grab the thing" part of a retrieve down, and usually brings it back to my vicinity (he's better about it when I'm sitting in a chair, for some reason), and we've done some "take the thing and then give it back" stuff, but that's about it.

I tried using an ear pinch with Ilka, and all it did was kill any desire she had to retrieve a dumbbell. Even her beloved training dummies were considered suspect for a while. Simon is so much more sensitive that I can't imagine ever doing it with him.
 
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